The music business got quite excited when Facebook started advertising for a head of music licensing last year.
And it got even more excited when well-respected ex-WMG exec Tamara Hrivnak left YouTube to take up the position in January.
The signals seem clear: the world’s biggest social network, with its 1.9bn active users, is finally ready to pay something for the use of music on its platform.
Hrivnak has solid history in both publishing (at Warner/Chappell) and records (at Warner Music) – so appears to be the perfect candidate to negotiate with both key sectors of music industry licensing.
But what happens once Hrivnak and her team have buttered up who they need to butter up – and ground down who they need to grind down?
Facebook’s going to need a hardcore music lawyer, naturally.
And now, it’s ready to hire one.
According to a freshly-posted job advert, the company is seeking a Legal Director of Music Licensing, based at its HQ in Menlo Park, California.
It explains: “This position will partner closely with internal business counterparts in driving licensing negotiations, as well as coordinating with product, engineering, operations, finance and legal teams in support of the company’s evolving music licensing needs.
“In this role, you will be responsible for solving cutting-edge licensing issues on a global scale, with an opportunity to help shape the future of music use on Facebook.”
“Support Facebook’s biz dev team in developing our music licensing strategy and helping lead negotiations across labels, publishers, and collecting societies globally… Lead and grow Facebook’s nascent music licensing legal team, and direct outside licensing counsel around the world.”
Facebook Job ad for legal Director, music licensing
It adds that the successful candidate will be “supporting Facebook’s biz dev team in developing our music licensing strategy and helping lead negotiations across labels, publishers, and collecting societies globally”, as well as “leading and growing Facebook’s nascent music licensing legal team, and directing outside licensing counsel around the world”.
The position requires at least eight years of music licensing experience, including “extensive hands-on experience negotiating label, publisher, and society licenses globally”.
Tellingly, Facebook prefers candidates to have experience working with “digital distribution of music involving online services, apps, and innovative technologies”.
In short: Whatever’s coming… it’s getting much closer.
Facebook is currently focusing on the development of its equivalent of YouTube’s Content ID, Rights Manager.
You’d have to guess this will play a key role into its dive into the world of music licensing.
In December last year, MBW reported that music publishers such as UMPG were battering the company with copyright takedown requests regarding video cover versions of well-known songs.
And in July, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg (pictured) told investors that “the big theme and strategy that we’re executing is we’re going to become video first.”
The very next month, Facebook acquired the team behind UGC music video app Eyegroove.
Earlier this month, Zuckerberg told those same investors that creators of what he considered ‘premium’ video content “need to get paid a good amount in order to support the creation of that content… and we need to be able to support that with a business model, which we’re working on through ads to fund”.
MBW subsequently suggested that the music industry could potentially strike a deal between Facebook and Vevo to help sate some of Zuckerberg’s ambitions.
Watch this space.Music Business Worldwide